A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of treating my two sons to a bear hunt in New Brunswick, Canada. The area we were hunting is located off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles inland from the fishing village of Alma. It has a large population of black bears, and I wanted to take them to a place where I knew they’d have a great chance of taking not just any bear, but a good-sized bear. This area also held the high potential of getting a bear with a “blaze” (white “V” on its chest.)
I found out about this place from a customer 17 or 18 years ago, when I was producing my TV show “Knockout Hunting Adventures” that aired on the Sportsmen Channel, Men’s Channel, and the Pursuit Channel. Since that time, I have produced eight shows with Adair’s Wilderness Lodge. Not only is it a great place to hunt, but it’s also a year-round 4-season resort with a lot of additional things to do near the seaport of Alma and the towns of Sussex and Shepody. The entire family can also join you for a family vacation and Adair’s will help you set up all of the arrangements.
The bear seasons take place in both the spring and the fall. Hunters are allowed to take two bears per year which is a real bonus if you are lucky enough to get your bear within the first couple of days, which is very possible. Both gun and archery hunts are offered, and crossbows are legal in New Brunswick. We would be using the Mini Vertical crossbows and videoing each other throughout the week for our new show Vertical Crossbow Junkies airing on the Pursuit Channel.
We arrived on Sunday and our hunt was to begin on Monday and conclude after Friday’s hunt. Most of the stand sets take place in the evenings due to the bear’s feeding habits. Multiple bait sites are available, and they are kept fresh throughout the entire year. Cameras are also continually monitoring each bait to see which ones are being hit the most by the largest bears. Most of the baits are very accessible by truck or ATV and most are fewer than 100 yards off the road; so, no matter how physically capable a hunter may be, there are great locations for them to hunt. Every bait is accompanied by a ground blind or an elevated blind large enough for two persons.
The local habitat consists of swamps, high ridges, deep ravines, creek bottoms with big dark timber, and dense groves of poplar trees creating a natural canopy that allows very little sunlight to reach the forest floor. It is excellent terrain for holding big ma- ture bears. After hunting this area many times before, I had one place that I always liked to hunt and had taken several big bears from; I asked the outfitter if that place was still being used, and he said that it was still producing good bears.
`The first afternoon my sons Dustin and Daylon were taken to a ground blind where the bait barrels were set up 20-25 yards away. These barrels were filled with meat, doughnuts, bread, and candy. Bears love candy! My boys were excited to hope- fully see their first bear in the woods and to possibly get a shot. 18-year-old Dustin won the coin toss and was going to shoot first while 16-year-old Daylon would be on the camera.
It is unbelievable what can show up at a bait sight in Canada. There is nothing like this type of hunting in South Mississippi where we’re from. The first thing they saw were lots of ravens fighting each other for the bait, and all through the first after- noon they saw ground squirrels, porcupines, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, and all kinds of jays, magpies, and other birds trying to get their share of the bait: it is never boring. Twenty minutes before dark, a nice sized bear walked towards the barrels and stopped in the thick bush for several minutes. After almost making it to the clearing, it then turned around and bounded off. The breeze had switched and blew their cover.
What a great first day it was for them.
The second evening, I decided to video for Daylon. The cameras were revealing so much activity in a stand that I had hunted in previous years that I just had to let Daylon sit on it first. We got up in the stand about 3:00 in the afternoon and got settled in. This time of year, in late May, the days are getting longer, and it is getting dark around 9:00. With the mosquitoes buzzing and the activity from the birds and squirrels at the bait barrels, time passed quickly. About an hour before dark, I spotted a bear making his way from the right side of the blind moving to the bait.
This is when the excitement of a 16-year-old becomes evident. I kept trying to keep Daylon calm as the bear made its way to the bait. As the bear walked around to the opening of the barrels, we saw that it had a beautiful white “V” on its chest, just what we were looking for. The bear stopped and gave Daylon a broadside shot. With the bow propped on the window frame for steadiness, he took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger, making a great double lung shot. The bear turned and ran down the deep bluff out of sight. This bear was not going far.
We waited 15 or 20 minutes before getting down from the two- man elevated stand to find his arrow covered in dark blood and a trail of red leading down toward the creek bottom. We stood around and reenacted the scene, what seemed like several hundred times in the following 5 minutes before we called the outfitter. This was a very dark area and when the sun goes behind the mountains, it would be hard to find our way around. He told us it would be best to wait until morning when we would have some help to go in and get the bear.
The next morning was filled with excitement. We tanked up on a complete hot breakfast and went back up the mountain to retrieve the bear. After a short search, the bear was found piled up in a bunch of leaves and limbs 150 yards away in a poplar grove. It had run down the deep bluff, crossed the creek, and expired just on the other side. The one thing I have learned in all my hunting trips is that the kill is just a small part of the overall experience. Daylon still had a lot more to experience. The beauty of this place is breathtaking with so much unspoiled wilderness, yet it is still close enough to be in touch with civilization.
After we returned to camp with Daylon’s bear and the excitement settled, Dustin was on deck to hunt the next afternoon. There was a bait sight that was just down the road from the lodge that had been having a lot of activity, so Daylon took the camera to video Dustin hopefully shooting a bear. This was a warm, sunny afternoon, and the bugs were really bad. The saying in Canada is, “when the bugs are out, the bears are out!” and that sounded good to us.
Shortly after refreshing the bait and getting in the ground blind, the ravens came into the bait making a lot of noise. Bears learn to recognize different noises to alert them of the food: it could be the sound of buckets being hit together, the barrel being knocked around, or the sounds of ravens squawking to the high heavens, but the bears know when the bait has been refreshed. Thirty minutes into the hunt, a bear showed up at the edge of the wood line. He milled around for a while and finally ran in, picked up some scraps of food, and then ran off back into the bush. It did this several more times not giving Dustin a shot and then eventually left for good. It was not a large bear but would have been a good one for his first.
An hour or so had passed and the boys had thought they had missed their chance for the day when the ravens started getting quiet and then began flying off. At this time, they caught sight of a bigger bear than the first moving towards the bait. At first, he came in close a couple of times acting nervous and then walked away. I have seen many bears do this; it is a way to see that a larger, dominant bear is not nearby. He did this sever- al times before committing himself to come in to feed at the barrel. Even then, he was not sure. He would run in, grab some food, and run out to the edge of the woods, never stopping long enough to give Dustin a shot. Finally, the bear stopped to eat at the barrel. Dustin raised his Mini and made a perfect pass-through shot. The bear bolted, running off into the woods.
After hearing the death moan, they crawled out of the ground blind, looked around, and found the blood-covered arrow. A short time later, the outfitter, the two boys, and the bear were all back at the lodge posing for pictures. About this time, I drove up to the lodge on the side-by-side with a story of my own. I was able to arrow a 300-pound bear into the same stand where Daylon had shot his, two nights before and videoed it all myself. My favorite stand had done it again: it had never failed me. Wow, three bears, three people in three days, how cool is that? We were in camp with two guys from Miami, Florida, and they both got good bears as well, with one weighing in at nearly 500 lbs., I would like to give thanks to them as well for helping us find and retrieve our bears.
Our Mini Vertical Crossbows performed perfectly in the shooting houses. Daylon and I were shooting our Mini Vertical Crossbows set at 125-pound draw weight. Dustin had his set at 95 pounds, and we were all shooting 23-inch, 300 spine carbon arrows, tipped with 100 grains fixed blade broadheads for a total weight of 380 grains. If you would like information on the Mini Vertical Crossbow, go to www.verticalcrossbow.com .
Our last night at Adair’s, we arranged to have lobster for dinner that we bought fresh, right off the docks! Man, was it good! Our hunt at Adair’s Wilderness Lodge in New Brunswick, Cana- da, is a trip that my boys and I will never forget. What a special place. A couple of years from now, we will be going back again for more bears, more lobsters, and more memories! If you would like more information on hunting opportunities in New Brunswick, Canada at Adair’s Wilderness Lodge: Call Larry Adair at (506) 434-3360 or www.adairswilldernesslodge.com .